Are you concerned that your child is not speaking appropriately for his/her age. These tips will help to promote language stimulation within your home.
1. Give your Child’s words Power
Parents in generally are intuitive with regards to their child’s needs and wants. A parents is able to determine what a child wants when he/she starts pointing, grunting, whining, or using any other form of non-verbal communication. Instead of giving your child yoghurt because he/she is standing in front of the fridge. Give his/her words power by allowing them to asks for it. Why should a child learn the word if he is given that which he desires without asking for it.
2. Repeat and Extend your child’s words
When playing with your child and he/she says the word” ball”. Extend their sentences by a word or two e.g. “Red Ball”. It’s a great way to improve their sentence construction too. If the child says: ”Mommy shop go” You can improve his/her sentence by saying “Mommy goes to the shop”.
3. Read a Book to your Child
Allow your child to choose his or her favourite book. Read the same book to them each night. The more they hear the book the more likely they will use the vocabulary, grammar and sentences in the book. Only change the book once they child appears to be bored of the book. Children enjoy hearing the same book over and over again.
4. Name all Objects and Things around you
Children with Language Delays have difficulty with building their vocabulary. Name the objects and things within any environment that you may find yourself in. Wherever you are there is an opportunity to develop vocabulary.
5. Teach your Child Sign Language if he/she is not speaking or starting to talk late
Sign Language will teach your child the power of communication. It will encourage and motivate him/her to speak in order to have their needs met. There are many course available, books in the library or Google signs Language that you can teach your child. If you child can imitate a physical action such as clapping, he/she will learn sign language easily.
6. Use Shorter Sentences when giving Instruction
A child with a Language Delay has difficulty following instructions. Try to make your instructions shorter and to the point. E.g. Instead of saying “Sally goes to the bedroom and get the ball for daddy” make your sentence shorter by saying “Sally, fetch the ball.” Once your child is able to follow 1 step Instruction you can start making the instruction more challenging.
7. Use shorter sentences when speaking to your child.
When speaking to your child, your sentence structure should be slightly above their their language level. E.g. if your child uses many 1 words but not using 2 word utterances yet then you should speak to him/her using many singular words and 2 word utterances. The reason is that he/she may not be able to understand longer utterances yet. You are also providing an example of how he/she can put 2 word utterances together.
Every Parent should try to read their child a bedtime story every night. Choose a book with large pictures and not more than 5 sentences on each page. A story book with a beginning middle and end is most appropriate. Not books that just contain words like a is for apple or b is for ball. The books needs to contain sentences so that your child can learn sentence structure as well as vocabulary. This book needs to be read to your child every night for two weeks. Repetition is very important. The more a child hears a word or sentence the more likely he/she will use it.
Key contributing factors to Autism
Autism is recognized at as a genetically predisposed condition triggered by environmental factors or a combination of circumstances. There is no research available of the exact cause of Autism. The possible contributing factors that may cause Autism will be discussed below. Key features that are discussed were identified from questionnaires completed by parents who have children diagnosed with Autism. The key factors are breast feeding, introducing your child to solids, vaccinations and antibiotics.
It has been indicated that children with Autism were not necessarily breastfeed and were bottle fed from the start. This may have caused an Allergic which contributes to the health symptoms that children with Autism may be experiencing.
Breast feeding is very important to mother and child. Breast milk contains the correct combinations of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, carbohydrates and antibodies to provide nourishment and to protect against infection. Breastfeeding a baby from the beginning up to 6 months of age has shown a wide range of specific health benefits.
Advice on breastfeeding:
- Try to make time to breastfeed. It will benefit your baby’s health.
- At the least give your baby colostrum which is available over the initial 3-5 days. It contains important nutrients, antibodies and helps to build their immune system.
- If you are not interested in breastfeeding, try to express milk and give it to your baby in a bottle.
- If you feel that your vitamins and mineral intake is insufficient, take a multivitamin supplement.
- Don’t despair if you cannot breastfeed. There are alternatives to cow’s mild i.e. Nanny Goat, Neocate and Nutramigem.
- Cow’s milk does not contain the adequate vitamins and minerals for a child under the age of 6 months. Try to avoid giving it to your child.
- It is recommended that you breastfeed for at least 6 months to a year.
Introducing your child to solids
It has been noted that children with Autism are introduced to solids before 6 months of age when their digestive system is still developing. Health experts warn against food containing wheat and gluten as these foods cause allergies. Children should not be given food containing eggs, cheese, nuts, shellfish, nuts and seeds before 6 months of age. Cow’s milk does not contain sufficient iron, Vitamin C and D. Therefore is not recommended to children before 12 months of age.
Advice on Introducing Solid foods.
- Start to introduce solid foods from 6 months of age
- Bread shouldn’t be your child’s first solid food. Rather introduce the child to fruit purees and rice cereals. Introduce eggs, nuts, meat barley, oats and rye only after 9 months of age.
An important finding was that a large group of the children received a number of antibiotic courses within their first year. Antibiotics is a drug utilized to treat disease and infection by killing bacteria. There are more than 100 different drugs available. It is a drug most prescribed by doctors. 38 Million Prescriptions were written by GP’s in Britain. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infection i.e. salmonella and E-coli. Antibiotics cannot differentiate between harmful bacteria that make us ill and beneficial bacteria that are in our gut. The beneficial bacteria help the digestive and immune system. Doctors have a tendency to over prescribe antibiotics for minor infections due to pressure from caring parents or because they are over cautious. Antibiotics can have a negative effect on the body’s natural defenses. The overuse of antibiotics can lead to the bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotic. The intestine or the gut needs beneficial bacteria in order to function optimally. Antibiotics wipeout large amounts of beneficial bacteria in the process of getting rid of the harmful bacteria. The lining of the gut would lose its immune protection if there are insufficient beneficial bacteria. The most common side effects are diarrhoea and inflammation of the colon. Limited beneficial bacteria may process and digest food differently, using the nutrients instead of passing it on to the rest of the body and starting to produce toxins. The gut wall will be easy to penetrate allowing food to leak directly into the blood stream before it is digested properly.
Food that is not properly digested and go directly into the blood can have an effect like morphine on the brain. This may cause damage to the brain areas that control communication, learning and attention. Limited beneficial bacteria can cause leucopoenia, pancreatitis, hyperkalemia, diarrhoea, eczema and skin rashes.
The goal of an antibiotic is to kill bacteria that may cause infections. It also suppresses the body natural way of dealing with infections. The effects of antibiotics vary from one person to the next. Babies and the elder are more susceptible to the effects of antibiotics. They too have weaker immune systems and are more likely to be prescribed antibiotics.
Children with autism suffer from nose, ear and respiratory infection. Therefore are regularly prescribed antibiotics. This in turn causes gastrointestinal infections, diarrhoea, constipation, chest infections, runny nose and ear infections.
Advice on Antibiotics
- Try to alleviate symptoms when your baby has an infection. Treat infections as if it is a normal part of growing up.
- Your baby is developing natural defenses. Allow the infections to sort itself out.
Visit you doctor if you have any concerns. But try to avoid antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary.
Your son is 2 years old and still isn’t talking. He says a few words, but compared with his peers you think he’s way behind. You remember that his sister could put whole sentences together at the same age. Hoping he will catch up, you postpone seeking professional advice. Some kids are early walkers and some are early talkers, you tell yourself. Nothing to worry about…
This scenario is common among parents of kids who are slow to speak. Unless they observe other areas of “slowness” during early development, parents may hesitate to seek advice. Some may excuse the lack of talking by reassuring themselves that “he’ll outgrow it” or “she’s just more interested in physical things.”
Knowing what’s “normal” and what’s not in speech and language development can help you figure out if you should be concerned or if your child is right on schedule.
Understanding Normal Speech and Language Development
It’s important to discuss early speech and language development, as well as other developmental concerns, with your doctor at every routine well-child visit. It can be difficult to tell whether a child is just immature in his or her ability to communicate or has a problem that requires professional attention.
These developmental norms may provide clues:
Before 12 Months
It’s important for kids this age to be watched for signs that they’re using their voices to relate to their environment. Cooing and babbling are early stages of speech development. As babies get older (often around 9 months), they begin to string sounds together, incorporate the different tones of speech, and say words like “mama” and “dada” (without really understanding what those words mean).
Before 12 months, children should also be attentive to sound and begin to recognize names of common objects (for example bottle, binky, etc.). Babies who watch intently but don’t react to sound may be showing signs of hearing loss.
By 12 to 15 Months
Kids this age should have a wide range of speech sounds in their babbling (like p, b, m, d, or n), begin to imitate and approximate sounds and words modeled by family members, and typically say one or more words (not including “mama” and “dada”) spontaneously. Nouns usually come first, like “baby” and “ball.” Your child should also be able to understand and follow simple one-step directions (“Please give me the toy,” for example).
From 18 to 24 Months
Though there is a lot of variability, most toddlers are saying about 20 words by 18 months and 50 or more words by the time they turn 2. By age 2, kids are starting to combine two words to make simple sentences, such as “baby crying” or “Daddy big.” A 2-year-old should also be able to identify common objects, common pictured objects, indicate body parts on self when labeled, and follow two-step commands (such as “Please pick up the toy and give it to me”).
From 2 to 3 Years
Parents often witness an “explosion” in their child’s speech. Your toddler’s vocabulary should increase (to too many words to count) and he or she should routinely combine three or more words into sentences.
Comprehension also should increase — by 3 years of age, a child should begin to understand what it means to “put it on the table” or “put it under the bed.” Your child also should begin to identify colors and comprehend descriptive concepts (big versus little, for example).
The Difference Between Speech and Language
Speech and language are often confused, but there is a distinction between the two:
- Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes articulation, which is the way sounds and words are formed.
- Language is much broader and refers to the entire system of expressing and receiving information in a way that’s meaningful. It’s understanding and being understood through communication — verbal, nonverbal, and written.
Although problems in speech and language differ, they often overlap. A child with a language problem may be able to pronounce words well but be unable to put more than two words together. Another child’s speech may be difficult to understand, but he or she may use words and phrases to express ideas. And another child may speak well but have difficulty following directions.
Warning Signs of a Possible Problem
If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and language development, there are some things to watch for.
An infant who isn’t responding to sound or who isn’t vocalizing is of particular concern. Between 12 and 24 months, reasons for concern include a child who:
- isn’t using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye by 12 months
- prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate by 18 months
- has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months
- has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests
Seek an evaluation if a child over 2 years old:
- can only imitate speech or actions and doesn’t produce words or phrases spontaneously
- says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can’t use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs
- can’t follow simple directions
- has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding)
- is more difficult to understand than expected for his or her age. Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child’s speech at 2 years and about three quarters at 3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don’t know the child.
Causes of Delayed Speech or Language
Many things can cause delays in speech and language development. Speech delays in an otherwise normally developing child can sometimes be caused by oral impairments, like problems with the tongue or palate (the roof of the mouth). A short frenulum (the fold beneath the tongue) can limit tongue movement for speech production.
Many kids with speech delays have oral-motor problems, meaning there’s inefficient communication in the areas of the brain responsible for speech production. The child encounters difficulty using and coordinating the lips, tongue, and jaw to produce speech sounds. Speech may be the only problem or may be accompanied by other oral-motor problems such as feeding difficulties. A speech delay may also be a part of (instead of indicate) a more “global” (or general) developmental delay.
Hearing problems are also commonly related to delayed speech, which is why a child’s hearing should be tested by an audiologist whenever there’s a speech concern. A child who has trouble hearing may have trouble articulating as well as understanding, imitating, and using language.
Ear infections, especially chronic infections, can affect hearing ability. Simple ear infections that have been adequately treated, though, should have no effect on speech.
What Speech-Language Pathologists Do
If you or your doctor suspect that your child has a problem, early evaluation by a speech-language pathologist is crucial. Of course, if there turns out to be no problem after all, an evaluation can ease your fears.
Although you can seek out a speech-language pathologist on your own, your primary care doctor can refer you to one.
In conducting an evaluation, a speech-language pathologist will look at a child’s speech and language skills within the context of total development. Besides observing your child, the speech-language pathologist will conduct standardized tests and scales, and look for milestones in speech and language development.
The speech-language pathologist will also assess:
- what your child understands (called receptive language)
- what your child can say (called expressive language)
- if your child is attempting to communicate in other ways, such as pointing, head shaking, gesturing, etc.
- sound development and clarity of speech.
- your child’s oral-motor status (how a child’s mouth, tongue, palate, etc., work together for speech as well as eating and swallowing)
If the speech-language pathologist finds that your child needs speech therapy, your involvement will be very important. You can observe therapy sessions and learn to participate in the process. The speech therapist will show you how you can work with your child at home to improve speech and language skills.
Evaluation by a speech-language pathologist may find that your expectations are simply too high. Educational materials that outline developmental stages and milestones may help you look at your child more realistically.
What Parents Can Do
Like so many other things, speech development is a mixture of nature and nurture. Genetic makeup will, in part, determine intelligence and speech and language development. However, a lot of it depends on environment. Is a child adequately stimulated at home or at childcare? Are there opportunities for communication exchange and participation? What kind of feedback does the child get?
When speech, language, hearing, or developmental problems do exist, early intervention can provide the help a child needs. And when you have a better understanding of why your child isn’t talking, you can learn ways to encourage speech development.
Here are a few general tips to use at home:
- Spend a lot of time communicating with your child, even during infancy — talk, sing, and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures.
- Read to your child, starting as early as 6 months. You don’t have to finish a whole book, but look for age-appropriate soft or board books or picture books that encourage kids to look while you name the pictures. Try starting with a classic book (such as Pat the Bunny) in which the child imitates the patting motion, or books with textures that kids can touch. Later, let your child point to recognizable pictures and try to name them. Then move on to nursery rhymes, which have rhythmic appeal. Progress to predictable books (such as Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear) that let kids anticipate what happens. Your little one may even start to memorize favorite stories.
- Use everyday situations to reinforce your child’s speech and language. In other words, talk your way through the day. For example, name foods at the grocery store, explain what you’re doing as you cook a meal or clean a room, point out objects around the house, and as you drive, point out sounds you hear. Ask questions and acknowledge your child’s responses (even when they’re hard to understand). Keep things simple, but never use “baby talk.”
Whatever your child’s age, recognizing and treating problems early on is the best approach to help with speech and language delays. With proper therapy and time, your child will likely be better able to communicate with you and the rest of the world.